The draft and why today is important for the Mariners

Jun 6, 2013, 10:04 AM | Updated: 1:10 pm

By Gary Hill

The 2013 First-Year Player Draft begins today as the future of teams throughout Major League Baseball hang in the balance. The full impact of the draft will not be realized for years, but decisions made today will be the building blocks for teams capturing division titles, pennants and World Series championships.

Only the first two of 40 rounds will take place today, but the significance of the initial stages of the draft can not be overstated.

The MLB draft is like nothing else in sports. The NFL mostly selects its players from a narrow list of high-profile Division I colleges and universities. The NBA expands its range to included smaller institutions while sprinkling in a European flavor.

MLB teams dispatch their scouts to all corners of the country to try and uncover the next Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. Players can be chosen from a collegiate baseball power house like Arizona State University or from Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala., which has a population of 2,951. They are snatched from the Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J. or Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles. They are taken from Texas and Kansas and Maine and Washington. There are thousands of players playing thousands of games and scouts are there to see the majority of them.

The term “crapshoot” is closely associated with the baseball draft. Stories are swapped about how Albert Pujols lasted until the 13th round or why Mike Piazza was chosen at all in the 62nd. The 62nd round does not even exist anymore.

A closer look reveals that teams do a remarkable job of netting most of the top talent early. Here is a breakdown of what the 2012 American League and National League All-Star teams look like according to draft round:

1st round, 31
2nd, 5
3rd, 4
4th, 3
5th, 2
6th, 2
7th, 1
9th, 1
11th, 1
15th, 1
17th, 2
18th, 1
20th, 1
27th, 1
39th, 1

Amateur free agents, 15
Free agent (Japan), 1

Furthermore, a look at MLB at this exact time in 2012 reveals that there were 931 players (including those on the disabled list) on rosters and 700 of them were drafted. Two-hundred and thirty-one players were signed as an amateur free agent (e.g. Felix Hernandez), non-drafted free agent (e.g. George Sherrill), or a free agent from another league (e.g. Hisashi Iwakuma).

Here are the rosters from this time in 2012, dispersed by round drafted:

Round 1, 191
2, 75
3, 52
4, 45
5, 43
6, 21
7, 25
8, 22
9, 19
10, 21
11, 14
12, 13
13, 15
14, 9
15, 10
16, 8
17, 17
18, 6
19, 10
20, 9
21, 4
22, 6
23, 3
24, 3
25, 5
26, 5
27, 4
28, 3
29, 3
30, 7
31, 4
32, 2
33, 3
34, 4
35, 0
36, 1
37, 0
38, 4
39, 1
40, 0
41, 1
42, 2
43, 3
44, 1
45, 1
46, 0
47, 2
48, 1
49, 1
50, 1

There were more players taken in the first five rounds (406) than the rest of the draft combined (294). Players drafted in the first or second round made up 38 percent of all drafted players in the majors.

The lesson learned from this breakdown is that players can be found anywhere in the draft, but the vast majority of premium talent is found at the top. This amplifies the importance of early-round picks.

Today the Mariners will select 12th overall. This is everything you need to know about the 12th pick:

• The Mariners have never chosen 12th in the draft before.

• Current Mariner Joe Saunders was picked 12th in 2002 by the Angels.

• There have been six All-Stars selected 12th:

Aaron Crow, Royals
Jay Bruce, Reds
Joe Saunders, Angels
Matt Morris, Cardinals
Nomar Garciaparra, Red Sox
Billy Wagner, Astros

• There has been one MVP, although he never happened to never be an All-Star: Kirk Gibson, Tigers.

• Delino DeShields was neither an All-Star nor MVP, but he gets honorable-mention recognition here.

• The Mets chose high school shortstop Gavin Cecchini with the 12th pick last year.

• Twenty-two of 27 players drafted 12th from 1984-2010 have made it to the Big Leagues.

• Former Mariners outfielder Joe Borchard was selected 12th in 2000 by the White Sox. Austin Wilson, an outfielder from Stanford, is a possibility for the 12th selection this year.

• Jay Roberts was selected by the Atlanta Braves in 1981. He was drafted out of Centralia High School, but never made it to the Majors.

• The Mariners have chosen 11th three times (Phillippe Aumont in 2007, Ryan Christianson in 1999, Shawn Estes in 1991) and 14th three times (Jason Varitek in 1994, Ron Villone in 1992, Tino Martinez in 1988).

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The draft and why today is important for the Mariners